Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich. Here his father took a job with the government.
Starting at a young age, Hofmann gravitated towards science and mathematics. At age sixteen, he started work with the Bavarian government as assistant to the director of Public Works where he was able to increase his knowledge of mathematics. He went on to develop and patent such devices as the electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships at sea, a sensitized light bulb, and a portable freezer unit for military use. Even with such great abilities in science and mathematics, Hofmann became interested in creative studies, beginning educational art training after the death of his father.
In 1932 he immigrated to the United States, where he resided until the end of his life.